This is the World's Best Food Destination

Travel and Leisure - 6 hours 28 min ago
<p>Part of discovering a destination is through the local produces and specialties it offers in its cuisine, and one destination stands out above the rest right when it comes to its food scene.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Northern Ireland</a> has been dubbed the world’s best food destination at this year’s <a href="" target="_blank">International Travel and Tourism Awards</a> in London, which celebrated the best in travel with <a href="" target="_blank">judges</a> made up of noted travel community members voting on categories that include the worlds best food destinations, best wellness destinations, best luxury destinations and more.</p><p>Northern Ireland took top place thanks to the <a href="" target="_blank">Year of Food and Drink 2016 initiative</a> led by Food NI, which focused on promoting the area’s local gems ranging from dairy products to craft beers and quality meats in food tours, visitor attractions, restaurants and specialty food and drink events.</p><p>With access to clear lakes, the waters of the <a href="" target="_blank">Atlantic</a> and Irish Sea, sweet grass pastures and local producers that have often used recipes passed down in families for generations, Northern Ireland is renowned its seafood, dairy products, meat scene and its whiskey, craft beer and cider offerings.</p><p><strong>Related: <a href="" target="_blank">The Top 10 Resort Hotels in the U.K. and Ireland</a></strong></p><p>Visitors will find some of these delicacies tied to their home base, from pan fried eels that come from Lough Neagh to theorganic salmon found in Glenarm Bay and Red Bay off of the Antrim coast and the now famous black bacon (a robust cured bacon) created at Fermanagh.</p><p>Dairy specialties travelers can enjoy include Abernethy butter, a hand-churned butter made with cream from cows that graze in in the Lagan Valley in County Antrim and found across restaurants and delis in the area, and cheeses like the <a href="" target="_blank">Ballylisk Triple Rose</a>, a salty and lemon-flavored white cheese found in various delis and markets.</p><p>One such market is St. George’s Market in Belfast, which has been operating since 1604 and is home to products 23 fish stalls in the seafood section, fresh fruits and homemade soda bread.</p><img alt="St. George's market offers a variety of local staples. "src=""><p>Beyond its top-notch seafood offerings, which can also be enjoyed at annual events like the Flavours of the Foyle seafood festival, travelers will find an increasing number of Michelin-starred restaurants focused on local goods.</p><p>These include <a href="" target="_blank">Ox</a>, where tourism representatives recommend tasting the beef and venison, and Dean's <a href="" target="_blank">Eipic</a>, where diners can enjoy sea buckthorn ice cream, spiced venison, black bacon and baked comber potato (a potato grown in sheltered soil and noted for its nutty flavor) with onion truffle and parmesan.</p><p>Visitors don’t have to go to high-end dining establishments to enjoy Northern Ireland’s finest staples though: <a href="" target="_blank">Harry’s Shack</a> offers delectable seafood selections while the <a href="http://Portstewart_County_Londonderry_Northern_Ireland.html" target="_blank">Glastry Farm</a> serves creamy ice creams that range in flavors from whiskey and Christmas pudding ice cream to ice cream with Yellowman (a chewy toffee textured honeycomb produced in Northern Ireland).</p><p>For those looking to craft a trip to Northern Ireland to taste its range of food offerings, Ireland's tourism board representatives have even put together a customized <a href="" target="_blank">food itinerary</a> to make sure you don't miss any of the must-try foods and restaurants. </p>
Categories: Travel

The Queen Sent Her Chef a Brutal Note After She Found a Slug in Her Salad

Travel and Leisure - 6 hours 43 min ago
<p>If there’s one thing you probably want to avoid as a member of the Royal household staff it’s getting on Queen Elizabeth’s bad side. Especially, if you’re <a href="" target="_blank">her personal chef</a>.</p><p>In the new book, "<a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Dinner at Buckingham Palace</a>," written by former royal servant Charles Oliver, he reveals that the queen was royally peeved when she bit into her dinner salad only to find a slug in her greens.</p><p>(Honestly, can you blame her for being mad?)</p><p>According to Oliver, the Queen and Prince Philip regularly eat their meals with notepads so they can send their suggestions back to the kitchen. This time, however, it was less of a suggestion and more of a threat.</p><p>"Once, on a torn-off top sheet the footmen found the dead body of a slug," Charles <a href="">wrote</a>, adding that Queen Elizabeth wrote a small note next to the little body that read, "I found this in the salad—could you eat it?"</p><p>Talk about a royal burn.</p><p>"Mostly, the book remains blank, as the Queen is not fussy about food,” Charles added about the tiny dinner side notebook. “However, when she has a guest to an informal lunch and they reveal definite likes and dislikes—such as an objection to fried potatoes or Brussels sprouts—the Queen will make a discreet note for future reference. This is duly recorded by the kitchen and remembered, should the guest come again."</p><p>According to Charles, the Queen isn’t the only one who likes to leave notes for her staff.</p><p>"If Prince Philip especially likes a wine, or his wife is particularly complimentary, he will write on the bottle label 'Good' or 'Very Good' so that the Yeoman of the Wine Cellars will know to serve it again," the book <a href="">explained</a>.</p><p>Though Philip’s methods seem a bit less passive aggressive than the Queen’s note we kind of hope that chef framed the threat. But hopefully not the slug.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Secret Smartphone Feature Makes Texting Easier and Faster

Travel and Leisure - 6 hours 58 min ago
<p>If you’re constantly <a href="" target="_blank">texting</a> on your phone, you might be running into the same phrases over and over again. And, if you’re like a lot of people around you, you might also be the type of person who actually writes out your most commonly used sentences every single time.</p><p>Sending texts like “I love you,” or “on my way home,” or the slightly more terse, “are you here yet?” can actually waste you many precious seconds throughout the day. But it doesn’t have to be that way.</p><p>According to <a href="" target="_blank"><i>Time</i></a>, your <a href="" target="_blank">smartphone</a> has some built in functions to make your texting style much zippier.</p><p>Text shortcuts allow you to type short keywords for your most commonly used texts, which then fill in your complete phrase when you hit space. So, for example, simply write the keyword “omwh,” hit space, then the phrase “on my way home” will magically appear on your text screen, ready to send.</p><p>Your shortcuts can be as simple or as complicated as you like.</p><h2>Here’s how to set up text shortcuts</h2><p>On an iPhone or iPad, visit <strong>Settings</strong>, then click <strong>General</strong>, then <strong>Keyboard</strong>, then <strong>Text Replacement</strong>. There, you’ll see where you can add your shortcuts by clicking the “<strong>+</strong>”on the right-hand top corner of the screen. There, you will see a box for your phrase (in which you’ll write your whole phrase or sentence), and a box for your shortcut (in which you’ll write your shortcut). You can even delete old shortcuts by clicking <b>Edit</b> on the bottom left-hand corner.</p><p>On the Mac, click on <strong>System Preferences</strong> from the Apple drop-down in the top left corner. Then, click <b>Keyboard</b>, then <b>Text</b>. There, you can follow the same procedures by clicking the “<b>+</b>” on the screen. For PC users, unfortunately, Windows 10 does not have this feature, according to <i>Time</i>.</p><p>But for Android users, click <strong>System</strong>, then <strong>Languages &amp; Input</strong>, then <strong>Advanced</strong>, then <strong>Personal Dictionary</strong>. You will see a list of shortcuts you can use.</p><p><i>Time</i> also recommends some text shortcut apps that can help you keep connected faster than ever before, like <a href="" target="_blank">TextExpander</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">aText</a>, <a href=";hl=en_US" target="_blank">Texpand</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">WordExpander</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Breevy</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Phrase Expander.</a></p><p>Get ready for happier (and faster) texting.</p>
Categories: Travel

Oprah's Favorite Gadget Will Help You Find Everything You Crammed Into Your Carry-on

Travel and Leisure - 7 hours 27 min ago
<p>It’s that time of year again. <a href=";_encoding=UTF8&amp;tag=tloprahfavelittbag-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;linkId=0f5c307f4721d1b12f18c9cbf4885d4d&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325" target="_blank">Oprah’s Favorite Things</a> has just been released for 2018, and in true Oprah fashion, it’s full of more-than-perfect gifts for at least a number of people on your holiday shopping list — from a <a href=";tag=tloprahfavelittbag-20&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;creativeASIN=B01M6272CG&amp;linkId=7e25c20956af8befe434cf3fadf76048" target="_blank">360-degree compact camera</a> for the traveler who loves to document everything to a chic little <a href=";tag=tloprahfavelittbag-20&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;creativeASIN=B07HYV5B89&amp;linkId=da47e7b5f669a0c976ce13598a407f1f" target="_blank">gardening set</a> for the retiree. Oh, Oprah, you’ve outdone yourself once again.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">This Jewelry Gift Set Is Perfect for the Stylish Traveler on Your List</a></p><p>After looking through <a href=";_encoding=UTF8&amp;tag=tloprahfavelittbag-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;linkId=0f5c307f4721d1b12f18c9cbf4885d4d&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325" target="_blank">the list</a> (which has more than 100 items on it), we came across a genius little gadget that’ll make rummaging through your purse so much easier. Behold: <a href=";tag=tloprahfavelittbag-20&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;creativeASIN=B07HJHD9SZ&amp;linkId=4dc509239df9f8b5b5c162be9c7a2ac5" target="_blank">the LittBag by PurseN</a>, an organizer insert for handbags with a handy-dandy LED light built in. Think of all the time you’ll save looking for your keys or that ever-elusive lip balm.</p><img alt="Oprah's Favorite Things 2018 The LittBag "src=""><p><a href=";tag=tloprahfavelittbag-20&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;creativeASIN=B07HJHD9SZ&amp;linkId=4dc509239df9f8b5b5c162be9c7a2ac5" target="_blank">The LittBag</a> is perfect for travelers who want an effortless way to switch from their everyday work tote to a TSA-approved carry-on bag before their next flight. The easily removable design lets you just slide the entire insert out (with all its contents still nestled inside) and drop it into your other bag. Plus, that 22-hour LED light will certainly come in handy when you’re fishing around for essentials mid-flight.</p><img alt="Oprah's Favorite Things 2018 The LittBag "src=""><p>Head to <a href=";tag=tloprahfavelittbag-20&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;creativeASIN=B07HJHD9SZ&amp;linkId=4dc509239df9f8b5b5c162be9c7a2ac5" target="_blank"></a> to buy the Littbag for $52 and check out the other items as part of <a href=";_encoding=UTF8&amp;tag=tlgiftsunder50-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;linkId=e4b33d9a738d5aea205bd5dc4d2a6732&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325" target="_blank">Oprah’s Favorite Things 2018</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

Pilots Say They Weren’t Informed About a Major Change to Boeing 737 Planes That May Have Caused the Lion Air Crash

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 17:51
<p>According to pilots flying Boeing’s <a href="" target="_blank">737 MAX</a> for both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, they were not made aware of a crucial change in an automatic system that has been linked to the fatal Lion Air crash last month.</p><p>In October, a Lion Air flight crashed into the sea just off the coast of Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. Now, investigators are focusing their efforts on figuring out if the plane crashed because of an update to a safety system that was designed to pull the plane out of a dangerous stall, <em><a href="" target="_blank">The New York Times</a></em> reported. Investigators believe the system may have been triggered on inaccurate data transmitted or processed from sensors on the fuselage, causing the plane to nosedive into the water.</p><p>According to <em>The Times</em>, Boeing has been busy selling the new 737s to different airlines and showcasing it as a plane that needed little to no additional pilot training, which is an attractive financial incentive for airlines.</p><p>But, according to the pilots union for American Airlines, the system upgrade wasn’t included in Boeing’s standard operating manual.</p><p>“We don’t like that we weren’t notified,” Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told <em><a href="" target="_blank">TIME</a></em>. Dennis Tajer, a 737 captain and spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association at American Airlines Group Inc., additionally noted that his union members were equally concerned about the omitted information.</p><p>“This is not about silos and layers of bureaucracy, this is about knowing your airplane,” Tajer said. “We will always be eager and aggressive in gaining any knowledge of new aircraft.”</p><p>And, because of this lack of communication, pilots are now left wondering if Boeing left anything else out.</p><p>“The companies and the pilots should have been informed,” Weaks said. “It makes us question, ‘Is that everything, guys?’ I would hope there are no more surprises out there.”</p><p>However, according to a Boeing spokesperson, the company is doing everything it can to ensure pilots are well prepared to fly the planes.</p><p>“We are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this incident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved,” the company shared in a statement with <em>TIME</em>. “Safety remains our top priority and is a core value for everyone at Boeing.”</p><p>But, according to Roger Cox, a retired investigator with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and a former airline pilot who spoke to <em>TIME</em>, crews have every right to be angry at Boeing.</p><p>“I would be pretty pissed” about the missing information, he said. “This is important systems information that pilots should know about.”</p>
Categories: Travel

Alex Trebek Claims Justin Trudeau Has a Secret Button to Get Him Out of Bad Meetings

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 16:33
<p>Justin Trudeau has a secret button that he can press whenever he wants to be dragged away from a meeting, according to Canada’s fountain of knowledge, Alex Trebek.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">In an interview with <em>Vulture</em></a>, the host of “Jeopardy!” claimed that the Canadian Prime Minister wears a button under his shirt that he can press whenever he wants to be taken away from a meeting.</p><p>Trebek recounted one meeting with Trudeau during which he noticed something peculiar. “I noticed at one point, after about 45 minutes, that Justin did something like this [scratches under his shirt],” Trebek said in the interview, “and about ten seconds later, there was a knock on the door and one of his assistants came in and said, “Mr. Prime Minister, you have a meeting.”</p><p>Sean Craig, a Canadian journalist, decided to follow up on Trebek’s claim and asked the Prime Minister’s office if the button actually existed. According to Craig’s reporting, the office said that the button’s existence is false.</p><p>But that doesn’t necessarily mean that other world leaders in other parts of the world don’t have magic escape buttons. In 2011, <a href="" target="_blank">a royal historian revealed</a> that Queen Elizabeth had a button underneath her desk in Buckingham Palace. The button would signal to staff when she would like them to open the door to her office and escort her guest off the premises.</p><p>Imagine if during bad dates, pointless meetings or uncomfortable small talk, you could press a button and someone would come along to say “we must be going” and you could make a polite and regretful goodbye before jetting off to another important meeting or whatever you would, honestly, much rather be doing (like laying in bed with a new TV show and a bucket of popcorn chicken).</p>
Categories: Travel

Two New Royal Family Portraits Were Released for Prince Charles’ 70th Birthday, and They Are Undeniably Sweet (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 16:09
<p>It’s been quite a year for the British royal family. From the <a href="" target="_blank">arrival of Prince Louis</a> to the marriage of <a href="" target="_blank">Prince Harry and Meghan Markle</a>, they’ve seen more than a few joyous months. And now, they all get to celebrate together in honor of another big milestone: Prince Charles’ 70th birthday.</p><p>Wednesday, Nov. 14, Prince Charles, the future King of England, celebrates the mega milestone birthday surrounded by family and friends. And, because this is a super special day for the family, they celebrated by unveiling a brand new family portrait with every younger member of the Windsor squad present.</p><p>In the photo, Prince Charles sits on a bench alongside his wife, Camilla. Princess Charlotte beams as she snuggles up to Camilla, while George laughs at something funny off in the distance as he sits on his grandfather’s lap.</p><p>Behind them, Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gleefully smile as Prince Louis rests in his mother’s arms. To their left, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, giggle along.</p><p>It is perhaps the photo’s casual nature that fans loved most.</p><p>“I really love outtake photos like this,” one commenter wrote. “Happy birthday Prince Charles,” another added, “beautiful family!”</p><p>The photos were snapped by photographer Chris Jackson, who said in a press release he was "delighted" to take the photos.</p><p>"It was particularly special to capture such an informal and relaxed family portrait over a fun afternoon in the gardens of Clarence House," he added. Jackson even shared a more polished version of the group on his own Instagram page.</p><p>“Happy Birthday to the Prince of Wales! 70 tomorrow,” he wrote in the Instagram caption. “I’ve traveled all over the world photographing the Prince of Wales for the last 15 years from Durbars in Nigeria to the Galápagos Islands, Pakistan, Japan and many more as well as well as covering numerous domestic Royal Engagements so I was delighted to have been asked to take these official portraits of The Prince surrounded by his family to celebrate the important milestone of his 70th Birthday. It was particularly special to capture such an informal and relaxed family portrait over a fun afternoon in the gardens of Clarence House!”</p><p>Happy birthday to Charles indeed.</p>
Categories: Travel

Why Japan Is Travel + Leisure's 2018 Destination of the Year (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:47
<p>Think about what you look for when you’re deciding on the perfect travel destination. Is it rich history? Cultural experiences? Lots of delicious food or shopping opportunities? Comfortable and unique places to stay? Or, perhaps, you just want to go somewhere with truly breathtaking views that you can’t get anywhere else in the world.</p><p>Guess what? You can find all of this and more in Japan.</p><p>The last year has been tumultuous for many countries worldwide, but particularly for Japan. The so-called Land of the Rising Sun has weathered some not-so-sunny natural phenomena. Between <a href="" target="_blank">typhoons</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">landslides, and earthquakes</a>, it’s miraculous to see how Japan keeps bouncing back.</p><p>But there’s more to Japan than just its resilience. Travelers across the globe love to visit the country for its fabulous natural spas, or even its quirkier relaxation offerings like baths of <a href="" target="_blank">beer, red wine</a>, or even ramen for a one-of-a-kind experience.</p><p>Tokyo in particular, while being a fast-paced and dynamic city on its own, is also one of the major fashion capitals of the world, with hundreds of distinctive shops, impressive designer stores, and street fashion that is recognized for its creativity and individuality the world over. Plus, it practically goes without saying that the rich, cultural history and delicious food are the key reasons why people want to visit this special country in the first place.</p><p>And finally, Japan’s gorgeous <a href="" target="_blank">cherry blossoms</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">festivals</a> are occasions everyone simply must see in their lifetime.</p><p>Thanks to Japan’s bustling cities, <a href="" target="_blank">beautiful countryside</a>, and whimsical experiences, travelers keep coming back for more. That's why we decided to make the country our 2018 Destination of the Year.</p><p>As you’re making travel plans for the year ahead, be sure to add Japan to your list, whether you've already been there or not. There's always more to see.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Over-the-top Luxury Train Is the Best Way to See Japan (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:44
<p>Being catered to usually makes me squirm, but nobody does service quite like the Japanese. When the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Royal Express</em></a>, a sumptuous 100-seat <a href="" target="_blank">luxury train</a>, pulled out of Yokohama for its journey south along the Izu Peninsula, the uniformed station staff emerged onto the platform to wave us goodbye. But it was crew member Mia Tomari who impressed me the most. She was so attentive yet unobtrusive that at first I mistook her sole duty to be my personal interpreter and guide. Later, when we disembarked at Shimoda, a small seaside city on the southernmost tip of the peninsula, a large umbrella appeared over my head during a quick rain shower as if by magic.</p><p>On board, there were performances of piano and violin music composed especially for the trip. Grown-ups lingered over a multicourse gourmet lunch in the dining car while kids tumbled around their own carriage, which had appropriately scaled seats, a children’s library, and a ball pit. Because the journey is so brief — passengers have the choice between a one-way three-hour ride or a round-trip tour with sightseeing stops and an overnight stay in Shimoda — the <em>Royal Express</em> doesn’t require sleeper cars, so each of the eight carriages is spacious and varied. The interiors were designed by Eiji Mitooka, who has employed wood and <em>washi,</em> traditional Japanese paper, while adding such small surprises as his own calligraphy paintings, which hang in a gold-ceilinged carriage reserved for weddings and private parties. The overall effect is one of old-world glamour.</p><img alt="The Royal Express Train, Japan "src=""><p>On one side of the train, panoramic windows reveal seemingly endless ocean views; on the other, undulating mountains and the hot springs for which the peninsula is famous. We were on the overnight itinerary, and an evening of insider experiences was planned. When we arrived at the station in Shimoda, I was welcomed, for the first and probably last time in my life, by kimono-clad geishas bearing flowers. On a tour of Hofukuji Temple, we were shown the burial site of Saito Okichi, a 19th-century geisha who, legend has it, was made the concubine of the first American consul in Japan against her will. After picking up some locally made sweets, we saw a dance performance in a historic building where Saito briefly ran a restaurant. Then we checked into Seiryuso, one of <a href="" target="_blank">Japan’s finest <em>ryokan</em>s</a> (Jimmy Carter once stayed there during a presidential visit), where we took a <a href="" target="_blank">dip in the <em>onsen</em></a> and swimming pool, before ending the evening with an exquisite 10-course dinner made with such rare ingredients as matsutake mushrooms and whole alfonsino fish. I bought some of the <em>ryokan</em>’s sake, as well as Japanese pottery. The next day, on the way back to Yokohama, we disembarked in Ito City, a hot-spring resort, for a private concert by a shamisen, or lute, player at Tokaikan, a former <em>ryokan</em> that dates from 1928.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">This Floating Inn Is the Most Luxurious Way to See Japan by Sea</a></p><p>Back on board, after finishing an elaborate sushi lunch prepared by an Ito City restaurant, I wandered from car to car for a last appreciative look and saw the conductor leaning out the window, gazing in wonder at the mist-fringed mountains and aquamarine sea. I would soon be leaving all this beauty behind, but I’d accumulated enough regional delicacies, from seaweed cookies to red-bean sweets, to recapture the flavor of the trip for a while. <em><a href="" target="_blank"></a>; from $220 per person.</em></p>
Categories: Travel

Indigo Is the One Souvenir You Should Bring Home From Japan — and This Family Has Been Making It for 200 Years (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:42
<p>Some souvenirs are more powerful than others.</p><p>When in Japan, you could opt for tchotchkes, colored fans, or <em>kawaii</em><i> </i>trinkets — or you could get something with a bit more cultural meaning, like indigo-dyed fabric.</p><p>Japan has a history of indigo that dates back at least 400 years. In the 1600s, indigo was prized for its ability to cling onto cotton fabric. In the fabric’s heyday, it’s estimated that 80 percent of all clothing in Japan was dyed indigo.</p><p>To understand Japan’s history with indigo, board the bullet train from Tokyo to Mashiko and head to the <a href="" target="_blank">Higeta Indigo House</a>. With its roots in the Edo period (from 1603 to 1868), it’s one of the oldest and longest-running dye houses in Japan. The family who runs the house has been dyeing indigo fabrics for the past 200 years, still using traditional techniques.</p><img alt="Man Tinting Clothes in Factory in Tokushima-shi, Japan "src=""><p>Dyers at the house produce indigo through every step of its process, from plant to wearable item of clothing. Those who visit can see how the leaves of the indigo plant are dried and fermented, how the dye is made, and how fabric is dipped into vats of indigo dye and swirled around. Visitors may even be able to see the traditional tie-dye technique of shibari.</p><p>And, of course, it’s possible to pick up fabrics and textiles that were dyed at the house by hand. From purses and scarves to button-down shirts, Japan’s hand-dyed indigo is a beautiful souvenir that carries hundreds of years of cultural legacy in every fiber.</p>
Categories: Travel

Pico Iyer on the Hidden Wonders of Japan, His Adopted Home and Our 2018 Destination of the Year

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:39
<p>I’ve just slipped out of an exquisite jewel-box combination of moss garden, pond garden, and camellia garden that is virtually deserted on this brilliant autumn afternoon. At <b>Yoshiki-en</b> <em>(60-1 Noboriojicho)</em><i>,</i> admission is free for foreigners with passports, and right next door is <strong><a href="" target="_blank">Isui-en</a></strong><i>,</i> an even more ravishing and spacious garden, complete with thatched-roof houses and a pond. Having basked in the dazzling scarlets and oranges and yellows of turning leaves, I head off across a park, past groves of wild plum trees and a 16th-century storehouse for Buddhist texts.</p><img alt="Isuien Garden is located in Nara, Japan. This name is derived from the fact that the pond are fed by the nearby Yoshikigawa River. "src=""><p>Deer peer at me through the trees. Others stroll up to check if my shoulder bag is edible. There are hundreds roaming untethered through <a href="" target="_blank">Nara</a>, a sprawling city 20 miles south of Kyoto that was Japan’s capital for most of the eight century. With night beginning to fall, I amble past a series of fairy-tale cottages — the rooms of the <strong><a href="" target="_blank">Edosan Inn</a></strong><i> </i>— as women in kimonos glide among them, bearing dinner in lacquered boxes. Then I make my way down to Ukimido, a floating pavilion on a pond ringed by hills, as the rising moon evokes a traditional Japanese painting come to life. Following a path beside an orange-gated shrine, I arrive at the 109-year-old <strong><a href="]" target="_blank">Nara Hotel</a></strong>, with a safe as tall as an NBA star behind its wooden front desk. A hidden flight of stairs along the hotel’s driveway takes me down into Naramachi, a maze of thin, lantern-lit lanes lined with Meiji-era wooden houses, once family homes, that now burst with handicrafts and cones of yuzu ice cream and bottles of local sake.</p><p>I still can’t quite believe that all these treasures lie only 40 minutes from my apartment in Nara’s modern suburbs. But what my friends can’t believe is that I’ve spent this magical afternoon in the city without once stepping into any of its A-list sights: the largest wooden temple in the world, one of the most sacred Shinto shrines in the land, and the second-tallest pagoda in Japan, all accessible via a gentle saunter through the deer park. The oldest wooden building in the world, a structure within the temple complex known as <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Hōryū-ji</strong></a> that dates from 607, is just a 12-minute train ride southwest of Nara’s central station.</p><img alt="Deer outside Nandaimon Gate of Todaiji Temple (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Nara, Kansai, Japan "src=""><p>Is there anywhere as dense with treasures as Japan? In 44 years of continual travel I’ve never found such. That’s one reason why Japan has been my adopted home ever since I left New York City 31 years ago. When friends visit, I take them along this quiet trail in Nara, bypassing the crowds around <a href="" target="_blank"><b>Tōdai-ji</b></a><i>,</i> the central temple, and then point out that this storehouse of wonders is, in fact, an afterthought, often seen only on a day trip from radiant <a href="" target="_blank">Kyoto</a>, an hour away. It’s Kyoto that pulls in newcomers with its more than 1,600 temples, 17 unesco World Heritage sites, whisper-soft geisha districts, Zen gardens, and international manga museum. But Japan has so much to offer that even a city such as Nara, which became the land’s first Buddhist capital 84 years before the court moved to Kyoto, can be thought of as a side trip. If countries were soccer teams, Japan would be the one with a crowd of all-stars that could still field a second 11 to keep up with almost any rival.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">17 Stunning Temples in Japan That Will Have You Buying a Plane Ticket, Stat</a></p><p>Everybody knows that <a href="" target="_blank">Tokyo</a> is one of the sleekest and most futuristic cities on the planet, a streamlined web of hidden sushi bars and fish markets and cosplay cafés and outlandish fashions. No one wants to miss Kyoto, the capital for more than a thousand years and cradle of so many of the traditions that make Japan unique. But I remind friends that they can also go to Takayama, three hours northeast of Kyoto by train, and enjoy street after street of wooden houses, with bridges over picturesque canals leading to hills ringed with temples. Or they can make the pilgrimage to Hiroshima’s piercing <a href="" target="_blank"><b>Peace Memorial</b></a><i>,</i> two hours in the other direction, and follow it with a 10-minute ferry ride to Miyajima, a compact island of temples (and more deer), with a haunting shrine, Itsukushima, that’s been jutting into the water for 14 centuries. If they want to see how a forgotten community can be made new by art, I tell them they can’t afford to miss Naoshima, the island in the Inland Sea, less than four hours from Hiroshima, that has, over the past quarter-century, been turned into a complex of museums that are forward-looking yet serene — the ultimate Japanese combination.</p><p>You will have heard that Japan has become irresistible to travelers in the past few years. Since 2003 the number of international visitors has rocketed by more than 500 percent, and this year it is predicted to top 28 million. The declining yen has made $15 three-course lunches possible (no tax or tips required). As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (and the 2019 Rugby World Cup) approach, there are more and more announcements in English. And as Japan’s neighbors across Asia have already discovered, the country has the best shopping around, from cartoon mugs to lacquer boxes, for both high-end goods and uniquely Japanese products. Even the convenience stores are crammed with miniature marvels that prepare you for the inexhaustible food basements in the department stores.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">Some of Japan's Most Stunning Sights Are Still Unknown to Tourists</a></p><p>Sometimes it feels as if all those visiting millions are converging around the well-known temples in Kyoto. Go to the postcard venues listed in guidebooks and you’ll understand why parts of Kyoto are now nicknamed “Chinatown” (almost all the young women in kimonos in the streets are in fact excited tourists). But on my walk around Nara I remember that just five minutes from the clatter of buses and clicking cameras around its central temple are beauties that the majority of visitors have neither the time nor the inclination to visit.</p><img alt="Deer crossing at a walkway in Nara Prefecture, Japan "src=""><p>Wandering around the country I like to claim as my own, I sometimes recall the first days I ever spent in Japan in 1983 and 1984. Never had I seen somewhere so different from the world I knew, so rich in secrets and so much like the elegant woodcuts I’d admired in museums. India is more intense, Cuba has better music, and Iran is more glamorous. But when a friend says she wants to go somewhere exotic and yet safe, unfathomable and yet kind, transporting and yet clean, honest, and efficient, I pick up the phone and make a reservation for her at the Nara Hotel.</p>
Categories: Travel

Japan's Coolest New Hotels, From Glamping Near Mount Fuji to a Snowy Chalet in Hokkaido

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:30
<p>In a country with such a long legacy of hospitality that a 200-year-old <a href="" target="_blank"><em>ryokan</em></a> is considered a recent arrival, it can be tough for new hotels to make a splash. These properties, all of which debuted in the past few years, stand out.</p><h2>Fuji-no-Kirameki FujiGotembo, Gotemba, Shizuoka</h2><p>Set in a valley near Mount Fuji, these <a href="" target="_blank">compact corrugated-steel-and-wood cabins</a> have private terraces and retractable roofs, so you can sleep under the stars while enjoying 21st-century amenities (Bluetooth speakers, digital projectors). Dinners range from full-service multicourse affairs to grill-it-yourself platters of seasoned meats and vegetables.<em>From $260 per person.</em></p><h2>Zaborin, Niseko, Hokkaido</h2><p>The forested grounds of this <i>ryokan</i> feel so remote that you’d hardly guess you’re just 20 minutes from <a href="" target="_blank">Japan’s best ski resorts</a>. The 15 villas have low-slung furnishings and few accessories, save for the occasional artwork or ikebana arrangement. But with private indoor-outdoor hot tubs, kaiseki meals prepared with foraged ingredients, and pine-scented bath amenities, <a href="" target="_blank">Zaborin</a> doesn’t lack for luxury.<em>Doubles from $667, all-inclusive.</em></p><img alt="TRUNK Hotel, in Japan "src=""><h2>Trunk Hotel, Tokyo</h2><p><a href="" target="_blank">This Shibuya newcomer</a> has made an outsize impact for a hotel with just 11 rooms and four suites — in part because its public spaces include a cocktail lounge, two restaurants, and a concept store, all of which have become favorites among the neighborhood’s in-crowd. The hotel’s socially and environmentally conscious leanings play out in the details: Tokyo-made snacks in the mini-bars, loaner bikes cobbled together from refurbished parts, and activities that highlight the work of area artists, chefs, and musicians.<em>Doubles from $293.</em></p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">Chefs and Culinary Experts Share the Restaurants You Won’t Want to Miss When Visiting Japan</a></p><h2>Kyomachiya Hotel Shikijuraku, Kyoto</h2><p><a href="" target="_blank">This property</a> has only been open for a year, but its 10 two-story <em>machiyas</em>, or shop-houses, date back more than a century. Within each, you’ll find Japanese design elements — tatami mats, rice-paper screens — plus Beni Ourain rugs and sculptural furnishings that create a modern, multicultural feel.<em>Doubles from $333.</em></p>
Categories: Travel

These Lifelong Skiers Will Help You Find Japan's Best Hidden Slopes

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:30
<p>It started with your first friend who skied in Japan, and continued with every successive person bragging about “Japow.” The endless conversations about incredible powder stashes may, by now, have made you envious enough to plan a ski trip there yourself.</p><p>One challenge is the country’s lack of an easy online system for winter sports fans to make lodging reservations, rental requests, and lift ticket purchases. That’s why two lifelong skiers founded <a href="" target="_blank">SnowLocals</a> to take care of it for you with trip planning for self-guided travels for groups and couples, storm chasing, and skiing with the pros.</p><p>Charlie and Jake Cohn have been <a href="" target="_blank">skiing in Japa</a>n since 2011, and return each winter to make films about it. They’ve traveled throughout the country by plane, train, bus, subway, taxi, ferry, rental car, and camper van. They’ve hiked, skinned, explored, and sought out the best zones on each mountain, looking for great lines and deep pockets of snow. It’s this experience that makes their help so valuable in building the best possible Japan ski trip.</p><p>“Only a few of the many ski resorts have been good at marketing to Westerners,” says Charlie. “That means those few become extremely crowded, but there are far more where you can feel as if you’re one of only a few people on the mountain.”</p><p>Niseko is the nation’s most-visited and most-developed ski resort, but Japan has more than 500 ski areas. Last season, I tapped into the SnowLocals brain trust to find great resorts that weren’t quite so crowded. We traveled first to Rusutsu Resort in <a href="" target="_blank">Hokkaido</a>, just a 90-minute drive from downtown Sapporo, and a neighbor to <a href="" target="_blank">Niseko</a>. The three mountains of the resort are all connected by lifts, gondola, and monorail, letting you change locations easily all day.</p><p>Even though Rusutsu is buried in unbelievably deep and light snow each winter, the sprawling resort complex has plenty of things to do when you’re not skiing, from snowshoeing to dog-sledding, snow rafting to snowmobiling, onsen to arcade, and <a href="" target="_blank">bars to restaurants</a>. But when it’s snowing, it’s hard to argue doing anything other than setting out to find more powder.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">Why You Should Consider Japan for Your Next Ski Trip</a></p><p>Our second ski spot was <a href="" target="_blank">Mount Racey at Yubari Resort</a> in Hokkaido. The closest noteworthy ski resort to the New Chitose airport (the main Sapporo airport), Yubari is only 34 miles away. “Yubari is our new favorite place,” Jake said. At Mount Racey, skiers have a handful of choices, from powdery tree skiing to smooth groomer runs, the speedy GS course to the mogul zipper line. The entire time we were in Hokkaido it was snowing, so even the groomer runs had inches of powder on top.</p><p>When we weren’t skiing, we scouted out great food. Yubari is known for its cantaloupe melons, which sell for thousands of dollars. Winter isn’t the time to taste the fresh Yubari King melons, but there’s melon bread, melon ice cream, melon candy, and even Melon Kuma — Yubari’s bear mascot with the head of a melon.</p><p>Would I have found these places without SnowLocals? Perhaps, but having trusted skiers help me plan my trip made it so seamless that there was more time to have fun on and off the slopes.</p>
Categories: Travel

The Essential 4-day Itinerary Around Eastern Hokkaido

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:24
<p>Japan’s northernmost island is a skier’s paradise, but its natural beauty is worth exploring throughout the year. <a href="" target="_blank">Scott Gilman</a> of <a href="" target="_blank">JapanQuest Journeys</a>, a member of the <a href="" target="_blank">T+L A-List of top travel advisors</a>, created the following tour, which he can book for you. <em>From $1,800 per person per day.</em></p><h2>Getting There</h2><p>From Tokyo, take a 90-minute flight to Hokkaido’s Kushiro Airport. Book your return flight from the rural Nakashibetsu Airport.</p><h2>Day 1</h2><p>Check in to <a href="" target="_blank">Hazel Grouse Manor</a>, a 90-minute drive from Kushiro Airport. The hotel, a Georgian home with a French restaurant, is near <a href="" target="_blank">Kushiro Shitsugen National Park</a>, Japan’s largest wetland. The region is home to approximately 1,000 Japanese cranes, once thought to be extinct. Get a closer view of the graceful birds at research centers and feeding stations throughout the park.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">The Essential 4-day Itinerary Around Kyushu</a></p><h2>Day 2</h2><p>Visit Akan Mashu National Park. Lake Mashu is famous for its clear water, and while you can only view it from a distance, it makes for sublime sightseeing. Nearby Lake Kussharo offers swimming and kayaking. At Iozan, an active volcano, buy eggs cooked by the heat of the mountain.</p><img alt="Shiretoko National Park. Scenic view on long boardwalk over wetland and two men walking, Shiretoko Five lakes. "src=""><h2>Day 3</h2><p>Drive 2.5 hours to remote <a href="" target="_blank">Shiretoko National Park</a>, located on a long peninsula on the northeastern corner of the island. Nature trails in the rugged landscape pass dramatic waterfalls and provide views of a chain of five small, pristine lakes.</p><h2>Day 4</h2><p>Stop at Kaiyodai Observatory for a panorama of the surrounding countryside before a flight from Nakashibetsu Airport back to Tokyo.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Floating Inn Is the Most Luxurious Way to See Japan by Sea

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:18
<p>Bounded by the islands of Honshū to the north, Shikoku to the south, and Kyūshū to the southwest, and surrounded by a gently hilly shoreline, the <a href="" target="_blank">Seto Inland Sea</a> stretches roughly 250 miles from east to west. It’s been an important commercial waterway between the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Japan for millennia. And while pleasure boats have long navigated its waters, it’s a good bet that none have been as luxurious as the new <em><a href="" target="_blank">Guntû</a></em><i>, </i>a small, exceedingly comfortable <a href="" target="_blank">cruise ship</a> with ultra-minimalist décor that bills itself as a “floating hotel.”</p><img alt="Japan's floating Guntu Hotel "src=""><p>The 266-foot-long vessel, designed by Tokyo-based residential <a href="" target="_blank">architect</a> Yasushi Horibe, couldn’t be more Japanese. Stepping aboard at a private marina in Onomichi, a port town near Hiroshima, I noticed that the only adornment in the ship’s lobby was a polished slice of tree trunk that supported a vase holding a single lily. My wood-paneled cabin, which had floor-to-ceiling windows, was outfitted with simple handcrafted furniture. There were crisp cotton kimonos in my bathroom, fresh ginger juice in my fridge, and books on bonsai in my snug sitting room. It was like the inside of a dream <em>ryokan </em>— only afloat.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">Dying to Visit Japan During Cherry Blossom Season? Go the Unexpected Route by Doing So on a Cruise</a></p><p>The three-decker boat contains just 19 cabins — the largest is an airy 295 square feet — making it feel more like a private yacht than a ship. The top deck is designed as a single living area, but I rarely bumped into the other (elegantly dressed, Japanese) passengers during my three-day journey. Some were relishing their private balconies with outdoor tubs; others were having spa treatments or soaking in the onboard bathhouses.</p><p>The Seto Inland Sea has 3,000 islands, only some of which are inhabited, and I took daily excursions on the ship’s two speedboats. On Kashima Island, I saw fishermen bringing in nets full of coveted pin-size baby sardines. After landing at Miyajima Island one morning before the crowds arrived, I explored its cobblestoned streets, climbed the ancient stone stairs leading to the top of a forested hillside, and got a closer look at Itskushima, the famous sixth-century Shinto shrine that appears to rise out of the bay during high tide.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">Japan's Coolest New Hotels, From Glamping Near Mount Fuji to a Snowy Chalet in Hokkaido</a></p><p>Mostly, though, I reveled in the <em>Guntû</em>’s refined spaces. I was served an unforgettable 11-course dinner created by Tokyo chef Atsuhisa Furukawa from local seafood and Wagyu beef so tender I could cut it with a chopstick; each tiny course was served on a different handmade plate. I also took advantage of the many masters on board: a shiatsu masseuse who unknotted my back; a pastry chef who taught me the intricacies of making and drinking matcha; and a star chef, Nobua Sakamoto, who showed me how to cut and roll sushi. There can be few lovelier places to learn how to make — or to eat — <em>maki</em> than at his six-seat wooden bar, as forested islands drift by and passing fishermen wave from their boats.</p><p><em><strong>To book:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank"></a>, from $3,510 per person for two nights.</em></p>
Categories: Travel

The Essential 4-day Itinerary Around Kyushu, Japan

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:16
<p>This journey through the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands takes in local cuisine, relaxing <em>onsens</em>, and strikingly diverse landscapes. <a href="" target="_blank">Tesia Smith</a>, a member of the <a href="" target="_blank">T+L A-List of top travel advisors</a>, can book this and similar tours. <em>From $500 per day. </em></p><h2>Getting There</h2><p>From Tokyo, take a two-hour flight to Fukuoka, a city on the island’s northern shore. Book your return flight from Kagoshima, on the southern side.</p><p><strong>Day 1</strong></p><p>Spend the day in Fukuoka’s Hakata District exploring the <a href="" target="_blank">Fukuoka Asian Art Museum</a><i> </i>and the eighth-century Kushida Shrine. A food tour by <a href="" target="_blank">Fukuoka Walks</a><i> </i>encompasses the Yanagibashi Rengo Fish Market, a department-store food hall, and street vendors. Stay at the <a href="" target="_blank">Grand Hyatt</a>.</p><p><strong>Day 2</strong></p><p>Drive two hours south to Kurokawa, a classic hot-spring town. Check in to <a href="" target="_blank">Yamamizuki Ryokan</a> and soak in its outdoor baths next to a peaceful river before a kaiseki dinner and a night on a traditional tatami.</p><p><strong>Day 3</strong></p><p>Drive two hours south to the mountain town of Takachiho, then rent a rowboat to navigate the Gokase River, which winds through the dramatic Takachiho Gorge, passing waterfalls. Continue driving two hours along Kyushu’s eastern coast to <a href="" target="_blank">Kirishima-Yaku National Park</a>. Stay at <a href="" target="_blank">Wasure no Sato Gajoen</a><i>, </i>a collection of cottages on the bank of the Amorigawa River.</p><p><strong>Day 4</strong></p><p>Check out more of Kirishima-Yaku’s active volcanoes, magnificent woodlands, and rustic <em>onsens</em> before the 90-minute drive to Kagoshima for your return flight.</p>
Categories: Travel

Chefs and Culinary Experts Share the Restaurants You Won’t Want to Miss When Visiting Japan

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:13
<p>Tokyo has more restaurants with Michelin stars than any other city in the world, but the <a href="" target="_blank">best eating experiences</a> are often farther afield. We asked some of <a href="" target="_blank">Japan’s biggest cheerleaders stateside</a> to share their go-to restaurants around the country. Here, four reliable favorites that highlight Japanese ingredients and the joys of a humble but perfectly cooked meal:</p><h2>Yuyado Sakamoto - Noto Peninsula</h2><p><strong>Nancy Singleton Hachisu, author of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Japan: The Cookbook</em></a></strong></p><p>Book a room at this remote <em>onsen ryokan</em> for its minimalist interiors and peaceful grounds — and, most importantly, for its stellar food. “Yuyado Sakamoto could be the most <em>wabi-sabi </em>inn in Japan,” says Hachisu. “Shinichiro Sakamoto and his wife, Mihoko, make all of their food in house, as well as the pickles and preserves and smoked fish. Soba is a hand rolled each day and treated with the respect it deserves.” The highlight: a multi-course Japanese breakfast, served to ryokan guests daily. “Each dish is deceptively understated, yet exquisitely flavored.” <em>15-47 Uedomachi-jisha, Suzu-shi, Ishikawa-ken; 81-7-6682-0584; doubles from $160.</em></p><h2>The Terrace - Naoshima Island</h2><p><strong>Anne Soh Woods, founder of <a href="" target="_blank">Kikori Whiskey</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Yuzuri yuzu liqueur</a></strong></p><p>Naoshima made its way onto the Japan travel circuit thanks to <a href="" target="_blank">Benesse House</a>, a Tadao Ando-designed contemporary art museum and 10-room hotel with sweeping vistas of the Seto Inland Sea. After a day of art, says Soh Woods, “continue the sensory experience through the <a href="" target="_blank">property’s exceptional restaurant</a>. Their presentation of French cuisine with a Japanese bent is as awe-inspiring as the setting — the quality of the Japanese meat is truly outstanding, and the produce is local to the Setouchi region.” Get a window seat for sunset views of the water.<i> </i><em>Tasting menu $115.</em></p><h2>Wappado - Ohara, Kyoto Prefecture</h2><p><strong>Yoshi Okai, head chef at <a href="" target="_blank">Otoko in Austin</a>, Texas, and <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Food &amp; Wine</em> Best New Chef 2017</a></strong></p><p>“<a href="" target="_blank">Wappado</a> is a small farmhouse restaurant near Kyoto, where I grew up,” says Okai. “It only serves lunch. I love it because every ingredient they use is sourced from around Kyoto.” Maintaining that small food footprint is not easy, especially in suburban Japan, and it’s made Wappado a dining and agritourism destination. Look for tempura of rotating seasonal vegetables and coal-roasted skewers of organic chicken and fish.<i> </i><em>Set menu from $22.</em></p><p><strong>Related</strong><em>: </em><a href="" target="_blank">These Boundary-breaking Buildings Prove Japan Is a Great Destination for Architecture Buffs</a></p><h2>Obana - Arakawa, Tokyo Prefecture</h2><p><strong>Nobu Matsuhisa, chef-owner of <a href="" target="_blank">Matsuhisa Restaurants</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Nobu Restaurants</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Hotels</a></strong></p><p>Matsuhisa recommends this small restaurant, just outside <a href="" target="_blank">Tokyo</a>, which specializes in just one thing: <em>unagi</em>, or freshwater eel. “I love unagi,” he says, and “Obana is among the best unagi restaurants in Japan. They do only a few preparations of unagi — very simple, very Japanese.” Dedicate several hours to this Michelin-starred favorite (lines form before it even opens, and supplies are finite) and enjoy some sake and salty snacks while you wait.<i> </i><em>5-33-1 Minamisenju;<br />81-3-3801-4670; entrées $53–71.</em></p>
Categories: Travel

The Essential 5-day Itinerary Around Japan’s Seto Inland Sea

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:10
<p>This major body of water, surrounded by the main islands of Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku, offers a beguiling mix of art, culture, and history. <a href="" target="_blank">Epic Road</a>’s <a href="" target="_blank">Mark Lakin</a>, a member of <a href="" target="_blank">T+L’s A-List Travel Advisory Board</a>, can book this tour of the region. <em>From $1,000 per person per day.</em></p><h2>Getting There</h2><p>From Tokyo, take an 80-minute flight to Takamatsu, a city on the northern shore of Shikoku.</p><h2>Day 1</h2><p>In <a href="" target="_blank">Takamatsu</a>, visit the 17th-century Risurin Park and <a href="" target="_blank">Shikoku Village</a>, an open-air museum of vernacular architecture. At nearby <a href="" target="_blank">Konpira-san</a>, hike 1,368 steps to a Shinto shrine. Stay at <a href="" target="_blank">Kotohira Kadan</a><i>,</i> a traditional <em>ryokan-onsen</em>.</p><h2>Day 2</h2><p>Drive south to Mount Tsurugi, then climb to the top for panoramic views. Head into the secluded Iya Valley and spend the night at <a href="" target="_blank">Tougenkyo-Iya</a><i>,</i> a group of thatched-roof villas.</p><h2>Day 3</h2><p>Travel by car and ferry to Naoshima, an island in the Inland Sea that showcases contemporary art, with such site-specific pieces as a polka-dot pumpkin by <a href="" target="_blank">Yayoi Kusama</a>. Stay at <a href="" target="_blank">Benesse House</a><i>,</i> a Tadao Ando–designed museum with guest rooms.</p><img alt="Tourists taking pictures of the yellow pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama on pier at sea, Seto Inland Sea, Naoshima, Japan "src=""><h2>Day 4</h2><p>Spend a day on two more art-centric islands with Benesse sites nearby: on Teshima, visit the <a href="" target="_blank">Teshima Art Museum</a>, shaped like a drop of water, and on Injuima, the <a href="" target="_blank">Injuima Seirensho Art Museum</a>, in the ruins of a factory. Travel to Kurashiki, on Honshu’s southwestern coast, and stay at <a href="" target="_blank">Ryokan Kurashiki</a>.</p><h2>Day 5</h2><p>Tour Kurashiki’s superb <a href="" target="_blank">Ohara Museum of Art</a>. The city is a short drive from the town of Kojima, where you can visit Japanese denim ateliers on “Jeans Street.”</p>
Categories: Travel

Four Adventurous Ways to See Japan's Natural Beauty

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:07
<p>Despite its reputation for urban density, Japan has no shortage of natural wonders — many of which are best seen on foot, bicycle, or a pair of skis. Budget a few extra days into your travel plans for a wilderness adventure.</p><h2>Hike</h2><p><a href="" target="_blank">Walk Japan</a><i> </i>offers more than 20 guided small-group multiday tours around the country. Highlights include a <a href="" target="_blank">trek in the footsteps of the 17th-century poet Bashō</a> through the mountainous Tōhoku region; a ramble from Kyoto to Tokyo along the ancient <a href="" target="_blank">Nakasendō way</a>; and an expedition along the <a href="" target="_blank">Kumano Kōdō forest trails</a>, which spiritual seekers have been following since the sixth century.</p><h2>Ski</h2><p>Known for its heavy snowfall, Hokkaido is a haven for skiers. Among the many resorts near Mount Yotei in the southwestern part of the island, <a href="" target="_blank">Niseko Village</a><i> </i>is popular for its profusion of powder, while nearby <a href="" target="_blank">Rusutsu Resort</a><i> </i>provides great tree skiing. <a href="" target="_blank">Kiroro Resort</a><i>,</i> about an hour north, is more family-friendly, with a ski school and snow park.</p><img alt="Cycling trips in Japan with DuVine Tours "src=""><h2>Bike</h2><p>The bucolic Nara Prefecture is one of the best places in this bike-friendly country to explore on two wheels. A seven-day <a href="" target="_blank">guided tour by DuVine</a> visits tea fields, Buddhist temples, and luxurious onsens, with stops for kaiseki meals, yakitori, and sake along the way.</p><h2>Raft</h2><p>Since 2000, tour operator <a href="" target="_blank">Canyons</a> has been leading rafting excursions on the wild upper reaches of the Tone River near the town of Minakami, 100 miles northwest of Tokyo. The company also offers canyoning tours that include ziplining down canyons and rappelling off waterfalls.</p>
Categories: Travel

These Boundary-breaking Buildings Prove Japan Is a Great Destination for Architecture Buffs

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:03
<p>Since the turn of the millennium, <a href="" target="_blank">Japanese</a> architects have created dazzling structures characterized by transparency and lightness. Add the following buildings to your itinerary for a glimpse of the future of architecture.</p><h2>Sumida Hokusai Museum, Tokyo</h2><p>A solo endeavor by Kazuyo Sejima of mega-firm <a href="" target="_blank">SANAA</a>, the 2016 <a href="" target="_blank">Sumida Hokusai Museum</a> in Tokyo’s Sumida ward brings together more than 1,800 prints by 19th-century artist Katsushika Hokusai. Its bold spaces recall the lines of his woodcuts.</p><h2>Musashino Art University Museum &amp; Library, Tokyo</h2><p><a href="" target="_blank">Sou Fujimoto</a>, Japan’s most in-demand architect, specializes in minimal environments that invite exploration, such as a house made of stacked glass boxes. His 2010 <a href="" target="_blank">library at Tokyo’s Musashino Art University</a> has a labyrinthine interior with a single, spiraling wall of books.</p><h2>Toyama Kirari, Toyama</h2><p><a href="" target="_blank">Kengo Kuma</a>’s résumé includes Tokyo’s New National Stadium, where the 2020 Olympics will be held. For this <a href="" target="_blank">2015 building in Toyama</a>, on Honshu’s west coast, he squeezed a public library, bank, and museum of glass art into a single bristling envelope.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">Japan's Coolest New Hotels, From Glamping Near Mount Fuji to a Snowy Chalet in Hokkaido</a></p><h2>Awaji Yumebutai Park &amp; Conference Center, Awaji Island</h2><p><a href="" target="_blank">Tadao Ando</a> updates Japan’s tradition of garden design. Located on an island that lies between Honshu and Shikoku, the <a href="" target="_blank">Awaji Yumebutai</a> complex, which includes a Westin hotel, features 1,000 fountains and a terrace of 100 planted enclosures.</p>
Categories: Travel